Gradual thaw may increase river levels and flood threat

Ice jams possible, but not expected
river ice.jpg
Posted at 5:33 AM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 05:33:09-05

WEST MICHIGAN - With the increased temperatures the past few days and sunshine, we've been in a steady meltdown and thaw. More sunshine and more mild weather is expected as we have obviously turned the corner on the Arctic air. That said, we will likely see higher water levels in area creeks, streams, and rivers (from snowmelt), perhaps some standing water, and to a lesser degree local ice jams.

A slow thaw with little/no new precipitation is exactly what we want. It's heavy rain coupled with significant warming that creates spring flooding that could be devastating. Right now, our temperatures are expected to reach into the 40s again this weekend with only little precipitation expected. What we expect is that any snow and ice across the area will continue to melt steadily. Lake ice will become increasingly unstable and thin, so venturing out on it is simply not safe. See image below from the National Weather Service.


We also expect most river ice to diminish completely within the next week or two. Again, the risk for ice jams is low, but some local jams are possible. The continued gradual thaw, slow warm up, and little bouts of precipitation will certainly help. Keep in mind we have very little ice coverage across most of the Great lakes, especially here in West Michigan on Lake Michigan. See image below.

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To see more great MODIS, high-resolution satellite images of the Great Lakes, click here. More mild weather is on the way this weekend and into the first week of March. Check out the complete West Michigan forecast at